Lewis Meyers

Lewis Meyers was a merchant in Skagway in November of 1898. He decided to go to San Francisco on business.
On November 22, 1898 he checked into the beautiful Baldwin Hotel downtown at the corner of Market and Powell. He never checked out. At 3:20 am a fire broke out and soon the entire hotel was in flames with people hanging out of windows and jumping to the ground. Lewis had a heart attack and died on November 23, 1898.

When the Baldwin Hotel was completed in 1877 at the cost of $3 million, it was opulent and majestic. Unfortunately, by 1898, the economy was in a downslide and opulence did not attract paying guests. Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin, a California comstock miner had invested most of his money into the hotel and land. Like many others during this economic depression, Baldwin mortgaged several properties, including his hotel, in an attempt to pay his bills. But when the hotel caught fire and burned to the ground, he was not that unhappy. He was able to sell the property for $1.1 million, about $200,000 more than the amount owed on the hotel’s mortgage—proving that the nickname, “Lucky” was well-earned.

Unfortunately Mr. Meyers was not as lucky, he should have stayed put in safe Skagway, Alaska!

SF Municipal Reports; Elias Jackson Baldwin biography online; gendisasters.com;

Sheep Camp

Mr B.L. Tingley took this photo of the muddy road in front of the Grand Pacific Hotel in Sheep Camp. Mr. J.P. Rupp owned this fine establishment. No news on what became of him after the gold rush.

Charles Lincoln Parker

Charlie Parker was born on this day, August 30, 1897 in Oregon. He is famous for being the youngest person to cross the Chilkoot Trail in that era of the Gold Rush. I would think his mother would get more credit for that – carrying a baby over the pass was no picnic. He had 4 sisters and 3 brothers, 3 of whom were born in Atlin. His father Abraham Lincoln Parker moved the Golden North Hotel by horse and capstan in 1908 to its present location. The Parker family moved to Juneau in 1913. The brothers Leslie and Charlie moved to Gustavus and had families there. Charlie wrote many letters and supported many causes for Gustavus. You can read them online at the Gustavus Historical site.

This 1928 photo of homesteaders & brothers Leslie “Les” & Charles “Charlie” Parker in everyday Gustavus, Alaska “scruff” (working clothes & untrimmed beards). Seen in front of Charlie’s white painted house on east side Salmon River and south of Salmon River bridge along “Charlie’s River” (slough).

1910; Juneau Parks and Recreation website; Gustavus Historical photo online

Major Lorenzo Dow Kinney

Major Kinney arrived on the Steamship Elder in 1897. He joined the Arctic Brotherhood and built a bridge over the Taiya River. He had the “Chilkoot Tramway Company” one of several companies that built tramways up the Chilkoot Trail. He later platted the little town of Atlin.
Born on this day, August 26, 1855 in Jacksonville, New Brunswick, Canada he moved around quite a bit. After leaving Alaska he moved to North Bend Oregon.

Sight unseen, Lorenzo singled out Coos Bay as a development plum ripe for the picking. Coos Bay was already a burgeoning seaport with lumber, shipbuilding and fishing as solid economic foundations.
Kinney was fresh from failures in Alaska and Canada, and had no money. Still, Kinney had rich friends and an intense personality plus a persuasive speaking style that readily secured money and credit. From 1902 to 1914, he was Coos Bay’s chief promoter and pitchman or “instigator,” as he preferred to be called. He was a man with a prolific capacity for words and whose name was a household word around Coos Bay. But by any measure, Kinney fit the category “odd.”

According to a posting on genforum, he was something of a rogue and spent time in the Oregon State Mental Hospital: Diagnosis: manic-depression. He died there of pneumonia on Aug. 9, 1920.

The book “Instigator: The Troubled Life of Lorenzo Dow Kinney”, 2008, by Richard and Judith Wagner chronicles Kinney’s life. It reviews his beginning in New Brunswick his time in Virginia, Utah, Alaska, British Columbia and focuses on his years 1902-1914 on the Coos Bay in Oregon where he promoted railroads, streetcars and land.

Picture above is of a Tram on the Chilkoot Trail, possibly his.

1900 census; National Park Service Dyea info; genforum Kinney family; Minter; Oregonlive article by John Terry from October 30, 2009.

John William Scott

John Scott ran the Scott Hotel in Carcross 1903. The hotel ran until 1940. He died on this day, August 13, 1920 in Skagway and is buried in the upper Pioneer Cemetery. Above is a flyer from the Skagway Alaskan in 1913.
That makes it look like a great place to stay, wish there was somewhere to stay in Carcross these days, my sources tell me that the Caribou Hotel there that has been renovated since 2004 will reopen next summer. I heard that when the fellow was murdered there in 2004, his head was missing and was later found somewhere else…..oooooohhhhh! I wonder if there will be headless ghosts there, certainly the possibility exists.

Explorenorth.com; Yukon Archives COR 275 f 6

Robert Purves McLennan

Robert McLennan was a lumber businessman. He came to the area in 1899 and had lumber companies at both Atlin and Bennett. Although many stampeders built their own boats at Lake Bennett to float to Dawson, after the first few months, the nearby forests had been cut and it opened the opportunity for boat builders and lumber companies to operate.
McLennan was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1861, and he died on this day July 27, 1927 in Vancouver.

The picture above is of a steam powered lumber mill. Another lumber company, owned by Albert Kerry packed a steam engine over the Chilkoot Pass to set up at Lake Bennett. Kerry and his brothers later used the engine to build their own boat and go to Dawson.
These steam engines were very dangerous and had a nasty habit of exploding at the worst moment. Reed’s g-grand uncle, John McCluskey was killed by one in 1868 in Owaneco, Illinois. This was after he had survived 4 years of the Civil War.

from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online; personal genealogy story

Skookum Jim Mason

Tagish-Tlingit packer Jim Mason or Keish which meant “Lone Wolf”, was also known as “Skookum (the Chinook term for strong) Jim” for his feat of carrying 156 pounds of bacon over the pass in a single trip. As a young man he worked as a packer, carrying the equipment and supplies of early prospectors over the mountain passes from the seacoast to the headwaters of the Yukon river. It was while doing this that he met Carmack, and the two formed a partnership that included Dawson Charlie as well.

Skookum Jim, his sister Kate Carmack and her husband George Carmack as well as Dawson Charley discovered gold at Bonanza Creek in the Yukon. This eventually led to THE GOLD RUSH which affected the entire world.

Jim was part of the Carcross Tagish band born in either Carcross or Dyea about 1856. He died on this day, July 11, 1916 in Carcross of a kidney ailment or Bright’s disease at the age of 60.

Johnson book: Canadianmysteries.ca; Gates; Yukon Archives 1087#8

Hem Hess Jang

Hem Jang is one of the few Chinese men who were in Skagway in the Gold Rush. He died while in jail of “acute insanity” which could mean anything. He died on this day, June 22, 1902 and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery but there is no headboard for him.

Pictured above is another Chinese man, Chew Chung Thui who was a kind and generous benefactor to goldrushers. He was also known as Joe the Baker or China Joe for his work in Juneau. He lived there between 1882 and his death in 1917.

Skagway Death Record; Juneau historical websites.

Mama Minnie Field

Minnie Field was born on this day, June 1, 1892 in Belfast Ireland. In 1909 at the age of 17 she emigrated to Canada and by 1919 found herself working as a cook in the Golden North Hotel in Skagway. She also worked in Atlin and later in Juneau.
In Juneau Minnie became known as one of the best cooks in town, and baked a cake for President Harding when he passed through in 1923. After she had worked at the Juneau jail for about seven years, her duties were increased to include caring for prisoners’ children. At the time, Juneau had no orphanage, designated child care system or foster home program. Minnie began caring for several tots; she laid them side-by-side, crosswise in her bed, and slept on the floor. She worked tirelessly to house and feed the city’s children through her own and later government help.
She is a largely overlooked heroine – not a politician or an activist, not a teacher or a missionary – but a woman who contributed a great deal to the “least of them,” Alaska’s needy children, many racially mixed.

from a Juneau Empire Story by Ann Chandonnet about a biography written of “Mama Minnie Field by Dr. Walter Soboleff.

Murders at Tagish

Tagish is a community about 80 miles from here on the road to Atlin. On this day, May 10, 1898 there were two murders committed. The victims, Christian Fox and William Meehan, gold rushers, were shot by four Native boys, known as the Nantuck Brothers. The case became quite famous at the time. All four Natives were rounded up and imprisoned in Dawson, Frank and Joe died of tuberculosis in the jail. Dawson and Jim Nantuck were found guilty and hung on August 4, 1899.

“Essays in the History of Canadian Law” by David Flaherty for photo of the Nantuck brothers; “Life Lived like a story” and Essay in the “History of Canadian Law” online.